For people who love horses but don’t want a career in the saddle, they may think their options are limited when it comes to jobs in the equine niche. Think again! Here are 7 non-riding careers that offer a chance to be around horses and work at the highest levels of equestrian competition.
1. Bloodstock agent
Bloodstock agents track down sporthorses for breeders and owners, looking for horses from specific lines or with particular characteristics desired by prospective buyers. They often have encyclopaedic knowledge of pedigrees and a good sense of which matches will produce offspring in high demand.
Bloodstock agents may attend horse auctions, offer advice on breeding, and travel to see horses perform in competition, such as at three-day eventing shows and races. People in this profession usually work their way up the industry, often starting with a large breeder to learn more about bloodlines and conformation, or they may have been competitive riders. Networking is a key skill in this job.
Breeders own horses that they reproduce for their own sport use or for sale. There is an enormous range within this profession, from breeders with small operations who produce just a few foals each year to corporate breeders with massive stables. Generally, breeders focus on one breed or breeds that are similar or likely to be crossed together.
Many breeders are attracted to the field because they have a passion for a certain type of horse and like to see those characteristics handed down in future equine generations. Some like to have control over the horses they use in competition, such as those competing in Driving. This is typically a profession for more mature individuals because it requires a monetary investment; people interested in becoming a horse breeder should investigate positions like breeding manager (see below) to learn more about the field.
3. Sales broker
Equine sales brokers are the middlemen between breeders and buyers. Whilst there are now websites and apps to connect people to potential amateur mounts, brokers typically work at the upper echelons of equine sales. They can coordinate international purchases, arrange shipping, and help busy buyers zero in on the perfect horses for them.
Whilst bloodstock agents also function as sales brokers, all brokers aren’t bloodstock agents. Some are trainers or breeders who act as intermediaries between involved parties. This job requires a large network in the horse community as well as detailed knowledge of what various riding disciplines require in a horse.
4. Photographer or videographer
Nearly every horse show has a photographer and/or videographer onsite to record rides for training purposes and for posterity, as well as for sports reporting and entertainment. Videographers also make videos of horses for sale. To capture the perfect moment on film, it helps to have a knowledge of various riding disciplines and horse anatomy, as well as photographic talent. Depending on the type of business, it may also require an investment in equipment and a fair amount of travel, including on weekends.
5. Show management
To put on a successful horse show, there are dozens of people behind the scenes planning and making everything run smoothly during the event. Show management staff break into the profession in a variety of ways, often moving up from ground level over the years as they gain experience. Others are people with a background showing their own horses or are retired competitors.
Top staff at a horse show include managers, officials, course designers, ring stewards, scribes, and scorekeepers, each usually having prior experience in their discipline. Equestrian organisations may send representatives, like a technical delegate, to ensure their rules are followed at a show. These delegates must complete training in show rules and have a background in show management prior to being certified.
6. Rider agent
Riders at the upper levels of competition often have agents to help manage their careers. Some of them book shows or races, as well as handle media requests and publicity. Depending on the rider’s other staff, they may do everything from arranging travel to negotiating sponsorship opportunities and helping to find horses to campaign. Agents come from different sources; some have a business or PR background, whilst others have worked in the equestrian world. This is not a position for an introvert, however!
7. Equine product sales representative
Many of the products seen at the veterinarian’s office or feed shop were promoted by a representative from the manufacturer, from pharmaceuticals to supplements and feed. These jobs required expertise in selling and managing accounts, and they usually want candidates with knowledge of equine anatomy and physiology. Many companies require a college degree too. There is almost always a lot of travel necessary, but these jobs offer great variety and often come with sales commissions.